Our hearts go out to the family of Illinois trooper Kyle Deatherage, who was killed on the job when a tractortrailer truck struck him. But campaign contributions Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier received from the trucking company involved have nothing to do with an unfavorable ruling by another court in the family’s lawsuit against the company.
The suit was filed in Madison County, and the company argued that wasn’t the proper venue. The appellate court — not the Supreme Court where Karmeier sits — ultimately decided the venue must be either be where the accident happened or the company’s main location, neither of which are in Madison County.
Karmeier’s only role was to be part of the high court’s unanimous decision that the appellate court had to hear the venue change motion. The Supreme Court justices didn’t tell the appellate court how to rule.
It’s amazing that plaintiffs’ attorneys can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to unseat Karmeier and that’s fair game, but when Karmeier’s campaign accepts money to counter those attacks, he’s supposedly a bad judge. People can’t have it both ways.
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This isn’t the system we’d prefer precisely because of the potential for campaign donations to taint justice. Just six other states besides Illinois have partisan elections to select their Supreme Court justices.
If judges are going to be elected in partisan contests and be expected to run political races, they have to raise money. What’s Karmeier supposed to do, have a list of every business that’s ever had a lawsuit filed against it and refuse donations just in case the suit makes it to the high court?
The Deatherage family deserves their day in court — but Madison County is not the proper venue.